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Kenyatta takes reins of deeply divided Kenya

Uhuru Kenyatta inaugurated under new constitution designed to overcome divisions blighting the East African nation.
Last modified: 9 Apr 2013 17:29

There was a uniquely Kenyan exuberance on Tuesday in the Moi Sports Stadium, with 60,000 cheering, adoring supporters of Uhuru Kenyatta's dancing, cheering and gyrating in the stands.

They only reluctantly settled during the solemn moments of the ceremony, bursting into applause every time the TV cameras settled on their new leader.

Most wore the national colours; many others the emblem of Kenyatta's victorious Jubilee Coalition.

Every one of them recognised that they were witnessing a historic moment, and not just because the son of the nation's first president was being inaugurated as its fourth.

It also wasn't just because it was the first inauguration since the disastrous elections of 2007 that nearly tore the country apart.

And it wasn't because this was taking place after one of the most intensively fought campaigns in the country's history. It was because this was the first president to be inaugurated under a new constitution specifically designed to overcome the divisions that divided the country in the first place.

Those divisions still exist, though, and largely along ethnic lines.

Deep tribal divisions

Whatever the rhetoric of the political leaders, the elections confirmed the deep tribal divisions that those leaders have exploited for decades.

And that's where President Kenyatta's work begins.

Every Kenyan understands the historic significance of this moment; though not all agree that it is a step forward.

There are many, including Raila Odinga, the outgoing prime minister, who was pointedly absent from the ceremony, who still believe the election was stolen and that it heralds a new era of tribal domination by Kenyatta's own Kikuyu.

In his inaugural address Kenyatta pledged inclusiveness.

He used high-minded rhetoric to draw the nation together, acknowledging the splits.

Those who voted against him will still need him to prove it.